Listening By Yourself: A WFH Mindfulness Exercise

So often it’s, “don’t try this at home”.  But now, try this “at home” simple exercise.

Take 4 and a half minutes, see below.  I call it Listening By Yourself (LBY). 

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pascal

One of Western civilization’s greatest minds agrees that sitting alone will alter your life. Blaise Pascal, who in 1642 was not only one of the first inventors of the calculator, but who also has a law, theorem, and coefficient named after him, was adamant about why humans struggled and how to address our challenges. His advice and solution are unequivocal. They form the basis of this book and my life’s work.  He said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

  • Close your eyes with your back straight right now, please, while sitting in a chair, both feet firmly on the ground.  Do not let your back rest against the back of the chair, sit toward the front
  • “Keep you back straight but soft, your shoulders square but relaxed” is a common refrain.  Lightly stomp your feet on the floor a few times, just so they remind you they are there
  • This is it.  This is the pole position.  Anything else is fluff. 
  • Now, as you sit in this simple position, back straight and eyes closed, please now take your attention, take your closed eyes and lower their focus onto and into your heart and chest
  • This is where all the action is
  • Imagine right now that instead of using your head and brain to think your thoughts and ruminate on your plans, regrets and pangs of resentment, that you now do all this thinking inside your chest and heart
  • In other words, imagine your brain was actually in your chest for the next few minutes
  • So, here you are, just sitting quietly with your eyes closed.  Well done
  • If you did just this for the next 15 minutes, you would have done a lot
  • But let’s do a bit more
  • Now that your brain is quietly sitting in your chest next to your heart, see and imagine that all your thoughts are rubbing against and being heard and felt by your heart.  It is as if your thoughts are being poured and filtered by your heart
  • Now imagine that each time you take a normal breath in through your nose, this inhaled air now travels into your chest, heart, and brain, filling them to capacity with air
  • It is as if your heart and brain, bedfellows right now, are balloons and with each inhale they expand, and as you exhale through the mouth, they contract
  • Keep inhaling into the nose slow and steadily, holding the breath at the top of the inhale, and then blow out the breath through the mouth upon exhalation.  Long breath out like blowing out a candle, as long as possible
  • You could count these breaths and do 10, or not count them.  Does not matter
  • After a minute or two simply forget about your breath, let it go.  You found it, now let it go
  • Now, with the breath left behind, just keep sitting and do one more thing:  Simply listen to your heart and the back of your neck
  • Sounds weird I know, but simply keep listening to the front and back of your heart, and the front and back of your neck
  • Imagine you took speakers from your car or computer and attached them to the front of your heart and back of your neck. 
  • This will help you listen better.  Just listen for as long as you can 

This is the oldest exercise known to man.  No need to clear the mind, escape or avoid thoughts, chant, focus on breath or a mantra, become one, find or look for a divinity.  Just listen and wait.  Wait for what?  (From Chapter 1, The Space in Between by Bill O’Herron, getting published)

Just keep going, you’ll find out.  At some point, today, tomorrow, 5 years from now, a memory, sensation, feeling, some remembrance from an event or 4th grade, a sadness or joy will surface from inside your emotions and enter your adult, rational awareness. 

This memory and feeling has information that it wants to share with your adult self, something the adult self has probably been unconsciously trying to avoid.  It is simply a reunion, a coming together of your current thoughts and old joys and regrets stored in an event or memory of a person from a time seemingly deep in the past. 

Your emotions do not work in linear time like your rational self.  Your emotions do not know or care if you are 10 years old or 40.  They are still there waiting for you to feel them again so that they can share their pain, joy, wisdom and meaning.  As soon as you go in and allow an emotion to be released, it will show you why it wanted to be released. 

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